Monday, August 23, 2010

Cleaning For A Reason helps women in treatment for cancer have sparkling clean homes

Through local cleaning and maid service partners, the Foundation relieves cleaning chores so women can focus on getting well.

Housework can be drudgery in the best of times, but for women being treated for cancer, the task can be insurmountable. Fortunately help is out there. The Cleaning For a Reason Foundation is dedicated to easing the housekeeping chores as women undergo treatment. Working with local cleaning and maid companies, the Foundation provides cleaning services once a month for four months.

Participating cleaning companies in the St. Louis area include Marvelous Maids, O’Fallon; Dee’s Cleaning Service, St. Charles; Green Angel Cleaning Service, St. Louis; Home Cleaning Centers of America, St. Louis-Midtown-South; and Go Green Clean in Webster Groves.

Founded in 2006 by Debbie Sardone, a 29-year veteran of the cleaning industry, the organization has provided more than $500,000 in free cleaning services. What a wonderful mission this group and affiliated cleaning services have taken on. By offering to help women in treatment, we see direct, immediate assistance to make their lives easier and more normal during a very difficult time.

If you know of a woman who would qualify, go to the Cleaning For A Reason website to help her begin the application process. While the Foundation does have sponsors, including Hoover and Allstate, donations are still needed to expand cleaning services. You may go here to help even more women being treated for cancer to have clean homes!

Monday, August 16, 2010

With a plan and a dose of flexibility you can find the right house for now and the future

Even if it doesn’t have everything you want now, good financial planning will help

Is now the right time to buy your first or next home? With interest rates low, prices at a fair level and many choices out there, the temptation is to jump into the real estate market. The question is how to decide what you can afford, what features are a must, and what would be great but not a necessity.

Even before you make a list of what you want and where you want it, the first consideration is: can you afford it? That’s non-negotiable. Consider long-term expenses, not just the up-front incentives that can dazzle a buyer. Over extending a budget for a few glitzy perks is a disaster in the making. The standard in financial planning is to spend no more than 35% of your pretax income on the mortgage, insurance and home insurance. You’ll also want to pay at least 20 percent down on the property and get a fixed-rate loan so you know exactly what your monthly payments will be.

The list
Here’s where you will detail, on paper, the type of home you want and the location. Be realistic about the positive and negative features and consider the long-term consequences of each feature. Think ahead. Don’t just buy a home for now, but consider the future. Resale value is an important factor, style can be an issue, plus room for children (and schools) and physical needs for aging parents who may move in.

Consider your purchase as a long-term investment, not a short-term gain. Now you have time to choose what you absolutely cannot do without, and what features are flexible. Most buyers won’t find everything they want at a price they can pay. So, if a swimming pool is on your list but the property you like doesn’t have one, putting a pool in is a goal for the future. Ditto for cosmetic things like countertops, bathroom spas and landscaping. While you may not have these up front by choosing a home with a mortgage you can manage, you’ll have the financial flexibility in the future.

With an organized home buying plan, you can minimize a great deal of the emotional impact. By determining your buying power, your wants and needs, and having an organized search plan, your chances of a stress-free experience are much better.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Inexpensive staging tips can increase a buyer’s interest and help sell a home quickly

Decluttering and a good cleaning are givens when selling a home, but the owner can increase the probability of a sale by using staging techniques. Staging helps a seller think like a buyer. Embracing this perspective early on will help prepare the home for the market. Small staging changes can make the biggest difference in the sales price and time on the market.

Make a Difference and Set Your Home Apart from the Crowd
To sell a home in this market, homeowners must compete in two areas–visual appeal and pricing, which is 80% of selling a property. While the price is the first lure, how well the home looks is the clincher.

Here’s where home staging plays a pivotal role. The technique highlights the home’s positive features and downplays the problem areas. Sellers have the opportunity showcase a home that welcomes a potential buyer into a space they can see as their own.

Set the Stage
While a seller can hire a professional stager, a lot of small-scale changes can help the process along. Here are some home staging tips that any seller can do personally.

Paint–Neutral colors that leave the buyer room for imagination are standard, but that doesn’t mean boring works. Earth-toned palettes, such as grey, sage, soft yellow, spa blue and beige warm a home and give the potential buyer a sense of well-being.

Give rooms a purpose–Even if the seller is comfortable with the computer in the dining room, the buyer needs to see a dining room table, not a nest of cables. Each room should be staged to reflect a specific purpose. Even a space that seemly don’t have a purpose can be set up as a cozy reading area with a chair, lamp and side table.

Furniture arrangement–The point is to open up visual space and create conversation areas that feel light and airy. A good rule of thumb is to remove two pieces of furniture, especially if they are oversized, and move the remaining furniture away from the walls.

Bedroom oasis–The bedroom should be an inviting focal point with upscale bedding in simple patterns. Include throws, pillow shams and a comforter folded at the end of the bed. A small sitting area with a cozy chair and reading lamp will also welcome a buyer.

Expert help
Real estate agents who value staging as the ramp to the sale will make all the difference. Choose an agent who can see the home as a buyer would, and who will offer the best advice for a seller to be competitive in today’s market.

Monday, August 2, 2010

HOPE real estate tax incentive still alive for potential buyers

The Missouri state program offers up to $1,750 in combined tax, energy efficient improvements for new homeowners.

The Missouri Housing Development Commission is still offering up to a $1,250 credit in real estate tax benefits for qualified buyers through the Home Ownership Purchase Enhancement (HOPE) program. Earlier this year the commission set aside $15 million to encourage home ownership, but it seems potential buyers have been slow on the uptake. Only $1.2 million has been issued, and that with the deadline drawing near.

To qualify, the home must be purchased between January 1, 2010, and August 31, 2010. The HOPE application must be received by the MHDC no later than September 30 of this year. There is also an income limit–up to $95,060 in the St. Louis metro region. First-time and repeat buyers are eligible for the program.

Homebuyers who are approved for the real estate property tax HOPE incentive may also be eligible to receive an additional amount if they bought a qualified newly constructed energy efficient home or bought an existing home and remodeled or purchased items, such as Energy Star® appliances, to make the home more energy efficient. The maximum combined total of the HOPE property tax incentive and the HOPE energy efficiency incentive is $1,750.

For more details, contact us and we can help buyers take advantage of this one-time offer from the state of Missouri.